The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 7

Here we are, Elvis fans… the last part in our Elvis’ #1 Hits series. It’s really incredible to consider Elvis’ success. Fans often gasp when they round the corner to see his wall of gold at the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. So many Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records. So many awards. So many records sold, so many spins on the record player, jukebox and CD and, now, so many digital streams. So many lives touched. This final part of our series spotlights a few of the king’s biggest hits. Learn more about Elvis’ #1’s in the previous parts of this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6. Be sure to tell us your favorite Elvis hit in the comments! “Heartbreak Hotel” “Well, the bellhop’s tears keep flowin’ And the desk clerk’s dressed in black Well, they’ve been so long on Lonely Street Well, they’ll never, they’ll never get back…” According to songwriters Mae Axton and Tommy Durden, the inspiration for this blues song came from an article in the Miami Herald. According to the story, a man had completed suicide and left no identification or any other information, aside from a note that read, “I walk a lonely street.” A demo of the song was made by Glen Reeves, and Axton took that demo to a DJ convention in Nashville, where she played it for Elvis. She offered him a share of the writers’ publishing ownership if the song would be his first new single release for RCA, which had just purchased his recording contract from Sun Records. Elvis and his band recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” on January 10, 1956, at RCA Studio B in Nashville in his first recording session for RCA. Scotty Moore and Chet Atkins were on guitar, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. Floyd Cramer played piano. Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires, plus Ben and Brock Speer, provided background vocals. The original lyrics were “they pray to die,” but were changed to “they could die.” Take 7 was chosen as the single, and it was released on January 27, 1956. The young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a hit – by April, it sold a million copies. “Heartbreak Hotel” became Elvis’ first #1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart and his first gold record award winner. It reigned on the Billboard pop charts for...
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Elvis Week – Through Fans’ Eyes

We’re still feeling that Elvis Week magic here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland! Elvis fans are, too – you can see it in the Elvis Week social media posts. Check out a few of these awesome fan photos from Elvis Week 2018, and mark your calendar for August 10-18, 2019 – that’s Elvis Week 2019! (and remember – you can book your special Elvis Week 2019 stay at The Guest House at Graceland now and save with our special Early Bird rate. This deal ends on Tuesday, September 4, so book now!) Elvis Week Events It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Elvis Week events and forget to snap the perfect photo or selfie. Luckily, these fans kept their phones handy for a quick shot!         At the King’s Castle There is no better time to tour Graceland than during Elvis Week. These fans took advantage of the week to snap some great selfies in and outside the mansion.         At the Graceland Gates and Wall Another iconic location for the ultimate Elvis Week selfie is Graceland’s gates and the wall, which is full of lovely messages to Elvis from fans worldwide.   And finally, we love the creativity and the message here… Check out Elvis Week photos now at the Graceland.com photo gallery. Share some of your favorite Elvis Week memories in the...
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Elvis Week Blog 10 – Elvis Week 2018 Wrap Up

BY JON WATERHOUSE They don’t make the appropriate adjectives to describe the phenomenon that’s Elvis Week. To quote the 1973 Elvis tune, “it’s just impossible.” Still I’ll attempt to take care of blogging business by providing a snapshot of the 2018 edition’s greatest hits. This year’s installment came loaded with amazing musical performances, revealing live interviews, eye-widening surprises, fan fellowship and more with Elvis Presley as the unbreakable common thread. Candlelight Vigil   Nothing speaks to Elvis’ enduring and continuing impact on the world like this annual procession of fans. On Aug. 15, the eve of the anniversary of his passing, the Elvis Week tradition continued. Thousands of fans with candles in hand made their way up Graceland’s winding driveway to pay their respects at Elvis’ gravesite. Listening Party for “Where No One Stands Alone” Album Release The acclaimed new Elvis album –a contemporary reimagining of Elvis gospel songs with new instrumentation, arrangements and background vocals– received the ultimate kick-off event. Co-producers Lisa Marie Presley, Andy Childs and Joel Weinshanker, along with Sony Music’s John Jackson, treated fans to a behind-the-scenes look at the album’s creation. Darlene Love For the first time at Elvis Week, this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer gave fans the gift of an exclusive live performance peppered with her own Elvis memories. Her set featured Love classics, her own take on Elvis songs and music she recorded with Presley himself. The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Concert Several of Elvis’ back-up vocalists (Elvis’ Imperials and former members of J.D. Sumner and The Stamps Quartet) brought Presley’s favorite genre to life on the Graceland Soundstage. The show’s finale featured both groups along with Andy Childs recreating the latest version of Elvis’ “How Great Thou Art,” a highlight on the “Where No One Stands Alone” album. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Some of the top Elvis tribute artists from around the world battled it out for the premier title. Ben Thompson of London, England took home the win, which includes an Elvis Presley Enterprises performance contract and a cash prize of $20,000. Fun fact: Thompson can be seen as Elvis in the 2017 sci-fi blockbuster “Blade Runner 2049.” The Live Interviews Elvis Week onstage hosts Tom Brown, DJ Argo and Andy Childs wrangled live conversations with a wide variety of Elvis world luminaries. Among the highlights: “’68 Special” director Steve Binder, music legend Darlene Love,...
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Elvis Week Blog 9 – Elvis and Ronnie Tutt: Back in the Building

BY JON WATERHOUSE Elvis Week Brunch with Ronnie Tutt From the late 1960s until the end of his career, Elvis’ live performances had an undeniable pulse. Certainly, Presley himself provided the electrical force emanating from the stage. The tangible heartbeat of the music came courtesy of drummer Ronnie Tutt. Like D.J. Fontana before him, Tutt’s rhythmic skill not only provided the essential backbone for Elvis’ live sets, but his percussive instincts often deftly accentuated Presley’s improvisational movements. In turn, Tutt’s powerful drumming would fuel and inspire Elvis to physically intensify his performances and dynamically pull back the reigns when needed. Tutt’s tenure in the TCB Band inspired fans to attend yesterday’s sold-out Elvis Week Brunch at the Guest House. Attendees noshed on a southern-centric buffet, but the event’s headlining entree was Tutt himself. The acclaimed drummer engaged in an extended chat with host Tom Brown, musing on his eight-year stint of recording and sharing the stage with Elvis. “(His stories) are so heartfelt,” said Shantay Wood of Memphis, a brunch attendee. “You can see him thinking and delving deep into his memory and his heart to share that with the fans. …He still has that deep appreciation for Elvis. ..It’s like that continual love affair all of us fans have with Elvis, but Ronnie’s is so much deeper.” Tutt’s connection with Presley had a life beyond the stage, a personal bond Elvis forged with his bandmates and their own respective loved ones. “He was very respectful to our families family when we’d bring (them around),” said Tutt, who recalled Elvis once taking time to make a Christmas phone call to Tutt’s mother. “(Family) meant a lot to him. …We became part of his family.” The drummer shared a humorous 1970s-era story of an encounter between Elvis and his then 5-year-old son Ron Jr. According to Tutt, his son gave Presley an honest critique of a Las Vegas performance. “You stood in front of my daddy the whole show, and I couldn’t see him.” The recollections continued, and afterward Tutt made his way to a ballroom table where he signed autographs for Wood and a long line of other fans. This included three generations of the Cooper family from Queensland, Australia, and 13-year-old Nate Pieper of Forth Worth, Texas. “He always put out such positive energy,” said Pieper, who counts Tutt as one of his favorite TCB band members. Elvis...
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Elvis Week Blog 8 – Graceland Museum Magic and Five Food Finds

BY JON WATERHOUSE A Quintet of Museum Magic Even if you’re visiting Graceland for the first time or the 50th, the museums’ eye candy never fails to delight. Thanks to the handy work of the Graceland archives department and their vast well of material, new items and fresh exhibits roll out frequently. Yesterday, I made sure to explore the memorabilia on view in the latest exhibits Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley and Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. The exhibits can be found in the Fashion King and the Elvis: The Entertainer career museums, respectively. Harley Davidson Golf Cart Lisa Marie Presley was riding a Harley before she was old enough to drive. No, she wasn’t rumbling on a hog, but rather this baby blue golf cart, which Elvis gave her in December 1976. She used it to zip around the Graceland grounds. When visiting the Trophy Room on the mansion tour, keep an eye out for a display of the golf cart’s key and its jumbo keychain with LISA emblazoned upon it. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley White Faux Fur Coat and Family Album At the tender age of 2, Lisa Marie wore this tiny faux fur coat to protect her from Memphis’ wintry chill. The archivists pair the outwear with a family photo album found in Elvis’ desk drawer. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley Grammy Awards Elvis’ trio of Grammys, each awarded for gospel recordings, have an appropriate home in the Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley exhibit. Won by Elvis in 1967, 1972 and 1974, the trophies’ gold shimmer practically illuminate them from behind the glass. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer Bible Also in the gospel exhibit, this 1964 Christmas gift given to Elvis by his entourage, rests on display next to several other spiritually-minded items from Presley’s personal collection. Look closely at the Bible pages for Elvis’ handwritten notes. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer The Memphis Suit The multicolored bling on this bold, white jumpsuit commands attention. Thanks to its individual display case, visitors can get up close and personal, and check out the suit’s detail. The king wore this IC Costume Company creation at his March 1974 concert at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. A recording of the show was immortalized on the album “Elvis Recorded...
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Elvis Week Blog 7 – Front Row at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration

BY JON WATERHOUSE Die-hards know every note, every scene, every subtle nuance of the landmark 1968 “Elvis” NBC television special. The beloved show –known as the “’68 Comeback Special” in fan speak– captures Presley arguably at his peak. Sleek and inspired, raw and reinvigorated. How could it possibly get any better? It happened last night at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration. The audience at the Graceland Soundstage witnessed what will go down as one of the most unique and moving multimedia presentations in Elvis Week history. Taking place in tandem with other screenings throughout the country on August 16, the Elvis Week show provided an exclusive happening. Event producer Andy Childs and a team of creatives infused a screening of the TV program’s original 90-minute version with a living, breathing documentary of sorts. Live behind-the-scenes recollections, musical enhancements, and Elvis’ original iconic costumes came together, taking the “’68 Special” experience to uncharted territory. Historic in nature, pivotal in Presley’s career trajectory, and still relevant today, “’68 Special” marked Elvis’ return to TV and performing in front of a live audience. It resulted in what many call one of Presley’s most passionate performances. Projected on the big screen with vintage commercials and the show’s original NBC introduction, the presentation gave the already larger-than-life musical film the appropriate size and scope. The Introductions Throughout the evening, some of the key players of the original broadcast took the stage. Producer-director Steve Binder, musical director Billy Goldenberg, and writer Allan Blye shared their own candid memories before introducing specific scenes. Dancer Tanya Lemani, who portrays the belly dancer in the “Little Egypt” scene, made a surprise appearance, dancing while donning a costume similar to what she wore 50 years earlier. Prerecorded reflections from Priscilla Presley, Elvis confidant and collaborator Jerry Schilling, songwriter Mac Davis and the late D.J. Fontana added even more perspective. The Costumes For the first time, Elvis’ trademark costumes from the original program, including that unmistakable black leather suit, were displayed onstage during a “’68 Special” screening. This unannounced element of the show took its own share of logistical preparation. According to Angie Marchese, vice president of archives and exhibits for Elvis Presley Enterprises, event producer Andy Childs proposed the concept, asking her blessing. “I thought it was an amazing idea. I told him, ‘I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you and Elvis,'” she said with a laugh....
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Elvis Week Blog 6 – Candlelight Vigil and Exploring The Guest House at Graceland

BY JON WATERHOUSE Candlelight Vigil 2018 Remarkable. Phenomenal. Unrivaled. It may sound like hyperbole to the uninitiated, but these and other adjectives only begin to describe Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil. Fans from around the world – a sweeping representation of races, ages and backgrounds – descend upon Elvis Presley Boulevard for this annual event. Thousands participate in the traditional graveside visit on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis’ death. Just after dusk, a perpetual procession begins at the gates of Graceland and winds its way up the mansion’s driveway to Elvis’ graveside at Meditation Garden. It lasts into the early hours of the next morning. Last night, 41 years after Elvis Presley’s passing, the tradition continued. SiriusXM Elvis Radio personality DJ Argo served as emcee and began the evening reminding the throng of fans lining the street in front of him they were gathering in the name of love. “To everybody at home, we’re spreading that Memphis love as we get ready,” Argo told those watching the Candlelight Vigil Livestream. “There are people here tonight who are carrying a candle for you.” Members of the Elvis Country fan club followed by addressing the crowd before introducing the 2018 Vigil theme song, Elvis’ “Thinking About You.” An apropos tune for sure, as Elvis occupied the collective consciousness. Soon after, everyone paused for a 16-second moment of silence, a reference to August 16, 1977. Remarkably, a hush grew over the massive crowd, only the sound of frogs and insects chirping in the night air. The Vigil walk began with a group of Japanese fan club members among the first up the driveway. The countless attendees with candles in hand included Elvis Week special guests actor Michael Dante (“Kid Galahad”), host Tom Brown and artist Betty Harper. I took the trek myself, marveling at the reverence of fellow fans along the way. After the Vigil, I had the opportunity to speak with several participants and get their thoughts on the Candlelight Vigil. Janice Peel, Canton, Texas “Everybody is so in tune with each other, we all get along, and it’s just like coming home. Elvis was so charitable and was always so accommodating to his fans. He never forgot them, and he never forgot where he came from. And we’ve never forgotten him. So being at the Vigil is about paying back.” Ernie Poublon, Los Angeles, Calif. “My biggest impression of...
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Elvis Week Blog 5 – Top 5 Elvis Gospel Concert Highlights

BY JON WATERHOUSE With the release of the new Elvis gospel album, “Where No One Stands Alone,” Elvis’ favorite genre returns to the spotlight. Last night at Graceland’s Soundstage, some of the gospel crooners who sang with the king –and appear on the new disc– did the same. The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Concert brought together Elvis’ Imperials and former members of JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet for an evening of equal parts jubilation and inspiration. The spirited sounds certainly had an impact on the crowd, eliciting more than a few “amens” and standing ovations throughout the show. “They’re carrying the torch,” said audience member Liz Hill of Madison, Mississippi, a longtime Elvis gospel fan. “And I think that’s what Elvis would want.” That torch blazed for the better part of two hours with two full sets from each act and a few surprises. Here are my Top Five Highlights: The Throwback Intro To amp the crowd, footage from the concert film documentaries “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” and “Elvis on Tour” projected on massive screens as a version of the gospel rave up “So High” boomed through the concert hall. Andy Childs, co-producer of “Where No One Stands Alone,” served as host and shared stories of Elvis’ passion for gospel, before introducing Elvis’ Imperials. Elvis’ Imperials The trio, featuring Terry Blackwood, Darrell Toney and Lynn Royce Taylor, bounced through an array of uptempo numbers, including Elvis foot-stompers “Bosom of Abraham” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot.” “I Believe,” “The Secret” and more dipped into mellow introspection. Their set-closing medley stitched together bits of Elvis standards “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “The Wonder of You,” “An American Trilogy” and “How Great Thou Art.” “Where No One Stands Alone” After the Imperials’ set, fans scored a big-screen presentation of the music video for the title track off of “Where No One Stands Alone,” a virtual duet featuring Elvis and daughter Lisa Marie Presley. Footage of Elvis from his 1968 television special and vintage Presley home movies interlace with in-studio shots of Lisa Marie, uniting father and daughter in a heart-tugging tapestry of imagery and song. The Stamps Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Larry Strickland, Ed Hill and Jeff Sumner not only displayed their collective powers as a quintet, but took turns giving each other spots in the driver’s seat. This included Strickland’s powerful bass leading “Peace in the Valley”...
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Elvis Week Blog 4 – 5 Things to Love About Graceland’s New Chapel in the Woods

BY JON WATERHOUSE Elvis fans can’t help falling in love. Yesterday, in the midst of Elvis Week, Graceland ushered in a new era of romance with the first wedding at the new Chapel in the Woods. Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado, who met at Elvis Week in 2015, exchanged vows, marking the 2,000th wedding, dedication or vow renewal to take place on Graceland grounds. Darlene Love, who sang alongside Elvis, crooned her classic “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” as Guardado walked down the aisle. Following the wedding, 10 couples renewed their vows in a single ceremony, an event Graceland dubbed “A Day of Love.” Countless days of “I dos” are yet to come as Graceland’s latest addition replaces the original chapel, which chalked up 18 years of tender loving care. The new digs meld classic country church charm and contemporary architecture with tasteful nods to Elvis, perhaps the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll Cupid. Savannah Burkholder, Graceland’s special events facilitator, gave us a rundown of the new Chapel in the Woods and what makes it the perfect place for couples who share a burning love for Elvis and each other. Location, Location, Location The new chapel is tucked in the woods between the Graceland mansion and Guest House at Graceland resort, but closer to the latter. In fact, take a peek out of the chapel window, and you’ll see the outline of the resort in the distance. A path links the chapel to the Guest House, giving couples the convenient option of spending their honeymoon in one of the resort’s 450 rooms or toasting their nuptials over drinks and dinner. According to Burkholder, some couples arrive without a vehicle of their own. With a wedding venue, luxury accommodations, restaurants and attractions all located on the Graceland campus, honeymooners can easily stay put. The Decor The chapel’s style remains strictly southern with its vaulted ceiling and wood accents. Floor-to-ceiling windows, one of Burkholder’s favorite aspects, put nature on display. “Up front where the couples exchange vows, the windows overlook the woods,” Burkholder said. “You really don’t have to do any decorating, because you can look out and see the beautiful trees and greenery. It’s truly breathtaking.” Subtle touches remind guests they’re on Graceland property. Wedding photos of Elvis and Priscilla Presley can be seen on the chapel walls. Look for other hints of Elvis in both the bride...
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Elvis Week Blog 3 – Backstage at the Ultimate: An Interview with host Joey Sulipeck

BY JON WATERHOUSE Throughout this year’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, all eyes and ears remained fixed on the competitors. The glimmering jumpsuits, the robust vocals, the rhythmic moves. It’s their night, especially 2018 Champion Ben Thompson from England. If you ask host Joey Sulipeck, it’s his job to keep it that way. “I’ve always seen my role during the show as the last person you think of,” said Sulipeck, who works as Chief Meteorologist for FOX13 News in Memphis. “I need to be as invisible as possible and funnel everything I say and do toward (helping) the audience enjoy the next performance.” Sulipeck’s been helping audiences enjoy the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest since its debut in 2007. Prior to that, he served as a host for the early editions of Graceland’s Candlelight VigilCast, the annual live Webcast of Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil. For years, the Memphis native and lifelong Elvis enthusiast had been fascinated and impressed by the local Elvis tribute performer scene. He watched as high caliber talent, many traveling from all over the country, came to town, singing at showcases and in contests. The artists’ passion, dedication and ability to recreate Elvis’ live performances struck Sulipeck to the point he shared his findings with his friends at Elvis Presley Enterprises. After much consideration, Elvis Presley Enterprises decided to create the inaugural Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest as the premier event of its kind. And they’ve enlisted Sulipeck as master of ceremonies ever since. “I think it was a brilliant move for Graceland to embrace (these performers),” said Sulipeck. “It really helps propel the legacy of Elvis, his music and his reach. It brings his music to life in a way very few things do. These talented performers are tying into peoples’ aching desire to have seen Elvis perform or see him perform again.” Prior to this year’s finals, Sulipeck gave the Elvis Week blog a backstage view of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. On the popularity of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest: “So we kicked off the first year wondering if it would work, if it would be a one-time deal. It was going to be a fun experiment to see how it went. I thought it would be (great) if we did it two years in a row. Now here we are 12 (contests) later. …I’ve just been honored to have been...
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